Wednesday, January 08, 2020

How about some Chinese rice for dinner?

Many people like to cook - and do it very well - and I got to see an Asian version close up on Monday. 

My Chinese internet friend who has been living and working in Summerville, left town yesterday morning to return to New York City on the 10 am Amtrak. 

He came down several months ago to get a break from icy weather up north. 
Yeah, right, like so great here lately! 

He was the Chief Sushi Chef at a relatively small Asian Bistro called Red Bowl and lived in an apartment provided by the owner.
He worked 6-days a week with only Monday off.

I would go up to Summerville, pick him up and we would tour a bit of the area before returning him to the apartment in the afternoon.

We stopped at the Bank of America so he could do his monthly wire transfer of cash to his son still in China then we took off to tour.

We rode out to Folly Beach, stopping at the Folly boat recently recovered and now on display again,

We walked out on the fishing pier, ducked into the Sand Dollar dive bar,  and split an Irish Breakfast at the Guinness bar next to THE traffic light. 

I had a half-pint of Guinness. He had tea.

Traffic was light so went all over downtown, both fountains at Waterfront Park (saw the unsightly hole in the ground where the SPA Headquarters had been for years and where a new hotel will spring up to block the harbor view for many.)

He oohed and ahhed at the stately S.O.B. historic mansions, we walked the Low Battery and ambled around taking in the sights.  A quick drive over and back on the Ravenel Bridge so he could get a twilight view of Mount Pleasant.

Stopped at Harris Teeter on the way home to get what he needed to make us a "rice dinner" Monday night. I had no idea what was in store for me to observe!

Heating the skillet until it was red hot, he oiled it and stirred two eggs in and made them crispy scrambled. Two beef sausages were heated and diced, the huge container of white rice was crumbled and added to the hot skillet as he kept the spatula busy moving things around so nothing burned nor stuck to the pan. A wonder to watch! I had plenty of Soy Sauce which he used liberally.

I have trouble making toast!

Being a Chief Chef, he showed me the "tools of his trade", many knives valued in the thousands of dollars were unveiled from his bulging carry wrap. 

In there was his seasoned whetstone and he later sharpened ALL of my knives to a keen edge! 

On the salad he made (half of a head of lettuce), he drizzled his own version of Russian dressing (mustard, mayo, etc) and we ate for a long time! Burp. 

He cleaned everything spotless and we relaxed to use my computer to check with his son that the money transfer had worked and watched some tv.

I have several spare bedrooms and, compared to the Spartan sleeping area he has had since coming to Charleston, he was pleased.

 My Chinese friend Kyle Yu is back in New York now and I hope the weather remains benign for him way up North!

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Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Remember the "good old days" back in 2019?

As has become a New Year Eve activity for me, I drove down to the paper's office for its annual Salute to this year's retirees.

It has been 15 years since I retired and the NYE Drop-In is a chance to stop by and give good wishes for the newly-retired.

A chance to see old faces - and show my old one.

I was reminded by some that they saw my beard last year and others remembered me as clean-shaven.

Many faces in the small crowd were reporters whose bylines were familiar and others totally new to me.

A cadre of older retirees like me was engaged in conversations around the room and I joined a few to catch up.

Oh, and there always is a nice spread of food.

I put my diet aside and sampled pieces of crispy fried chicken, a few biscuits with sliced ham and cheese and a chocolate chip cookie.

Most of these delicious bites are not part of my normal menu but - hey, it's a special time-out day! A new decade beckons.

After some nice conversations, I drifted away to see what was the same and what had changed in the last 364 days.

While I was hired to run InfoLine for the paper, I still had an affinity for the press photographers whose work always pleased me as I scanned my daily paper.

My press photo roots harkened back to the 1960s in San Diego where I was a staff photographer.

I got to chat with this year's retired press photographer Wade Spees and, while neither of us had a camera, we both had Smartphones in our pockets that could capture some great images.

Right after his Summer retirement, we both had attended a Retirees quarterly luncheon and I was armed with a 4x5 Speed Graphic!

He was pleasantly surprised to see such an well as the bulky classic news camera.

Many fond memories of racing to grab the right image while being mindful of approaching deadlines for the morning and afternoon papers.

This was the same situation here growing up when my two brothers and I carried - and tossed - the News & Courier and The Evening Post.

Long after I headed West, the two papers here merged as did the two in San Diego.

All around the building, I saw dazzling photos taken by staffers.

The one in England of a colorful double-decker bus in the midst of a black & white scene caught my eye.

I have a buddy who drives modern buses around London. He will chuckle when I suggest he check my blog.

New to me this year was seeing "lounge areas" scattered around the second floor.

I believe the paper has an in-house ad agency now called King & Calhoun.

I didn't see any pool tables or other recreational break areas.

Understand there are such areas that GOOGLE workers can retreat to for relaxation.

Not sure about another new site I saw near the advertising cubicles.

Did they bring in prospective clients to a cozy retreat area?

Or, was it a place for the ad sales reps to relax and recharge their batteries.

Either way, I seem to recall that room was a designated smoking area. There was one on each of the three floors but I had quit smoking before I was hired so never ventured into the smoky enclosures.

One image I will add to this NYE account.

It was NOT at the downtown newspaper office but IS symbolic of this time of the year.

A friend gave me a small Christmas Cactus plant that I have nurtured along for a few months.

Apparently, it had its first bloom while I was spending Christmas out in California with two of my children.

A nice seasonal happening that always pleased my Mother when her cacti bloomed starting around Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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Monday, December 16, 2019

More new stuff for the holidays..

OK, this not exactly "holiday-themed" but saw this as I parked and I snapped it through the windshield.

I did not want to interfere with this family scene but wanted to share the obvious....the picnic table is secured to the tree with a steel cable.

The dog is lapping up water from a bowl as its family has an outdoor meal.

The youngster is linked to the dog with a serious-size rope.

I just hope a cat - or a squirrel - doesn't dart by and the dog takes off chasing it!

 OK, here's the seasonal stuff..
starting with a party at a private home that requested an unwrapped gift be brought to be contributed to the Marine Corps TOYS FOR TOTS program.

Makes you feel good to be part of that!

(Yes, there is a wrapped present sitting there because I missed the part about UNwrapped.)

The company was great, the food was lavish and well-presented in a beautiful holiday setting.

AND, I got to meet Santa!

He mentioned my beard, I saluted his.

Santa commented that he has seen many, many crazy Chrismas sweaters but had not seen a holiday hoodie before.

He added: "I and my sleigh appear to be upside-down in the images." I had not noticed when I glanced down.

He chuckled that people still leave out cookies and milk for him as he makes his annual merry round.

"The cookies keep me fat and, really, how about maybe a beer and some pretzels once in a while!"

Santa wandered off at the party to check out the refreshments.

He smiled and nodded his approval.

"Milk is very good for the little boys and girls but this looks more like what I need on that longest night of the year when I make my deliveries."

Uh oh, hope old St. Nick doesn't get hit with a DUI!

On the holiday music scene, it doesn't get much better than the weekly Blues Jam every Sunday night nearby at Smokey's Place.

It's only a few blocks from my house but I had not been there in years.

Back then it had indeed been smoky inside (cough, wheeze, cough) and was actually more of a sports bar.

So glad I stopped in one Sunday night, hearing the Blues as I approached.

Inside the smoke-free room, I saw a banner that proclaimed this was the official home of the Lowcountry Blues Club.

I had joined the club years ago when it met for jams at Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ in West Ashley.

But that Home Team stopped its music program quite a while back. Now I see the Blues Music had moved here 6 years ago!

The usual Sunday hours are 5 pm to 9 pm but check the hours over the holidays.

Next Sunday, for example, the music is earlier because the place has to clear out for the restaurant to hold its annual private staff Chrismas party.

Also, in the spirit of the season, check out the Belmond Charleston Place
 extravagant model train Village set up in the lobby between the main staircases, beneath the huge chandelier.

This link does not show the video I shot. Hmmm, have to figure out how to edit and post my videos.
Take the kids or go by yourself. The Train Village improves and gets bigger every year!

Ok, let's take a breather. Gotta get ready for more holiday activities to enjoy...and post about.

You know the way I do on the links and the photos for more details.

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Monday, November 25, 2019

"Love's Lantern..."

Sometimes I go do something, it's really great but I delay writing about it on my blog.

Hate when I do that and I look back at my laziness and just shake my head.

Here's a great event that you can read about here and see pictures I took and - best news of all - it's going to be open Wednesday through Sundays - for the next four months!

The first weekend it was open, I had
headed out to see what all this Lantern Talk was all about.

After a ferocious, monsoon-like rain out the previous weekend, my friends and I last night enjoyed a stroll around 9-acres of spectacular  Chinese Lantern Festival displays at Charleston's Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.

 (I understand there is a much larger one in NYC but we are the only public garden in the U.S. as the site of this Chinese import.)

Joan Perry a fellow-blogger, received free tickets and included me so I drove us through an icy rain last weekend only to be met at the gate with "Sorry, it is too dangerous to turn on the generators and all of the extensive electrical cablings have been flooded." 

Joan followed up with a request for a literal Rain Check and secured us tickets for yesterday evening walkabout.... a nice 50 degrees, clear skies and not very crowded at all on a Sunday night.

Free admission was important for the three of us. We are invited to events and write about them on our blog...admission is  $26 per person, a $3 bus shuttle can bring you from several local parking lots and if you do choose to park at the Gardens, it is $50! Be sure to plan ahead and not just show up!)

On our aborted try the week before, I had parked at a nearby strip mall and we took Uber the rest of the way. 

Fortunately, when we were told the park was closed, the driver turned around and brought us back to my car. 

We also found that my handicap parking card allowed us to park there last evening and we were able to not pay the $50 parking fee on-site,  so there also was no Uber cost!)

OK, so I DID write and share and I encourage you to take time to go see this spectacular array of bright and clever tableaux in a beautiful setting at our Magnolia gardens.

Be sure to click on the link and the photos for more details about the months-long highlighted event.

The Chinese New Year symbol behind me is MY sign - the Rabbit. 

The whole array of such "Chinese Year Of " symbols are displayed so find yours and snap a Selfie.
Saw a little girl walk up to one of the signs showing the outline of a hand image with a slash through which means "hands-off" to us adults. 

She giggled, slapped it with her small palm and said "High Five!"

(Oh, and check out the title Love's Lantern poem by Joyce Kilmer.)

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

It seemed like just yesterday....

 Actually, it WAS  only yesterday.

Veterans Day 2019 has a nice highlight each year with offers of free meals for vets and First Responders.

Eli Hymn, the owner of Hyman's Seafood downtown, came through again with his offer of a "thank you for your service"  Free Meal up to $20.

Driving downtown, I was thinking of such past treats as his fried Flounder but also have enjoyed his Shrimp & Grits.

This time I was seated downstairs at the bar around 5:30 and it was not very crowded. The bartender said they were VERY busy at lunchtime.

Two others came in and mentioned the Veteran's Special.

As the server went through the choices of what came with the grits, I heard salmon was an option. Had always gone with shrimp but this time I opted for the salmon patties and grits.

That was a favorite meal my Mom would make and I am glad I chose it!

I paid for a beer with my free meal and even bought the new Hyman's souvenir cocktail glass for my evening Jameson-on-the-rocks.

His offer was appreciated and I made sure to add a tip based on the actual total cost.

Usually, I tip at 20% and today was no exception.

Great meal, fine friendly attention and a sincere "Thank you for your service."

My mother would have liked that.

Click on the photos and the links for more detail. Thanks for sharing a holiday Monday with me.

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Sunday, November 03, 2019

Day by Day...and a night or two

A few weeks ago, my paper landed in my yard instead of my porch. 

This has happened before - a substitute carrier or something.

This time, after 7 days of clumping down the stairs and walking around barefoot on the dewy grass, I tried calling Circulation to complain. After 5-6 minutes of hearing "Your call is important to us," I hung up and sent a stinging email about my wish to have my paper on the porch OR CANCEL IT!

I prefaced it by saying that, as a 20-year subscriber, I have heard your daily circulation has dipped dramatically and your Sunday run now has slipped too, so you MIGHT think I am serious and important to you.

Meanwhile, I'll take a peek at the paper online but I think that would encourage them to dismantle the presses and go all online only. I'd rather be a thorn in their side and protect the jobs of longtime pressmen.

Saw the Chick Corea Jazz Trio last night in our fancy 2000 seat Music Center. Signs were posted saying "no photos," but, sitting in the 6th row, I don't know what those behind me were doing but I used my phone to discreetly snap a few.

....until the sweet little old lady seated next to me whipped out her cellphone and fired off three shots with the harsh and startling double-flash each time!

Anybody else like me who had sneaked a photo, quickly put away our phones as two ushers thundered down the aisle to find the "bright" but not discreet culprit!

She was simply told "no photography."

The dire warning signs implied she would be grabbed and man-handled from her seat and dragged screaming up the aisle in front of the shocked Jazz music lovers who didn't have the nerve to attempt taking a (non-flash) photo!

I often wait for the last song and snap a photo  when the audience stands and think "Will this be the time they kick me out NOW?"

I do like how my new phone caught the action onstage only 6 rows away.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Two waiting.

 As I get back in the habit of sitting at my computer and posting on my blog, it might be a good time to flashback to how it all started.

Let's see, I retired from the local paper in 2004. Yay...retirement.

No longer "working for the man" and able to call my time my own.

No work schedule..,ummm, and no paycheck.

Divorced, my children grown and off on their own, no family at home to worry about, I agreed to move in as my Mom's roommate because she didn't want to stay there alone after my dad died.

I blogged about that adjustment for both of us.

For the next 10 years, I could either have home-cooked Mom meals or stay out as long as I wanted. She was happy, I was glad to be with her and my blog was reflecting our shared good times.

The computer shown above was not mine. My first venture online was a Brothers Word Processor.

It too used discs to store things but it wasn't a "real computer." I had used it though, to create and print resumes when I was job-seeking.

The flip phone on the left never really existed and was something I saw online as a bit of cyberspace humor.

My sense of humor liked the reminder that I grew up with a dial phone (our home number on Society Street was 5924) and I even recall us being on a party line!

I'm still looking for the "handset" I stashed somewhere.

I bought it as a joke to plug into one of my first "non-flip" cellphones.

It really did work like an old-timey headset, with the advantage you could talk and listen.

 ...and hand it to someone and say "It's a call for YOU."

As a photographer, I "retired" large SLR-type cameras and opted for a pocket-size Canon P/S.

I was aware that phones were getting better and better at taking photos and yet, no camera existed that could make a phone call.

I finally did get a real computer made by GATEWAY, their boxes distinctly spotted with black and white Holstein cow markings.

A simple setup with, I recall,  a "giant" 17" monitor.

I went through an expensive phase of buying different sizes of color paper - and pricy color inks - to have photos to show, hand out and send to others.

The color printer was relatively inexpensive but devoured color inks like crazy. Finally, emails became stable - quickly outdistancing the old FAX machines - and our phones now could show photos in great color so there no longer was a need to make prints to share!

My "home office" setup evolved nicely when I bought a brand new desk.

My old one was a WWII era dark wooden desk with a hidden compartment taking up the left side that would store and pop-up the typewriter when it was  needed.

I had bought it VERY used for $20.

My new light-blond beauty had four pull-out drawers and two deep ones for hanging files!

It even had that clever small shelf that would slide out to show the keyboard and mouse.

Ah, but my life changed the day I visited a friend and saw that he had TWO monitors.

What a on photos on one side and write copy on the other side.

I even found a bargain 32-inch CURVED Samsung monitor when I bought a new Dell XPS 8930 computer.

"Sure, put that in the cart too" It had been 6 years since I had bought my last Dell PC. Lots of changes in that length of time!

So, here I sit now, going back into the past to gain traction to pick up blogging again.

It had been several idle months.

I would think as I attended a music show or met some interesting people, that THIS would make a nice blog item.

And then not follow through.  Look out, I'm back!

Thanks for stopping by. Let's make that a habit again. 

Click on the links and photos for more details.

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Possibly In my Senior years plans..

Image may contain: textNot sure of the color but saw this as a smaller vehicle just to zip around town instead of driving my car all the time.

Well, maybe a weekend trip to Darlington Speedway...

My almost 14-year old Saturn goes 0 to 60...eventually.

Bought the 2006 model right around Christmas, 2005;

Only my second NEW car/

The first was a bright orange VW Super Beetle with a curved windshield and a bit more room back behind the steering wheel and a deeper dashboard.

Big Whoop, you say.

Actually, it WAS a great way to stand out in traffic - different from the millions of other VWs.

Oh, I helped push it off the showroom floor and drove my bright orange beauty home to park it proudly in my Burbank driveway.

On Halloween!

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Friday, October 18, 2019

A visitor from the North..... well, Carolina.

 So, I have this new online buddy who lives just about in the middle of North Carolina.

He mentioned he likes to drive - and that's good - because he's about 200 miles north of me.

I found he was not kidding about getting behind the wheel and taking off.

After we chatted quite a bit, I invited him down for a tour of my hometown.

Over several months, he has come down for four weekends and we have enjoyed many activities like musical comedy, and a mystery theater where I got to play a role and have actual lines from a script.

I prepared and did a good reading, getting the laughs I wanted.

(I have been doing work as an Extra in tv and movies filming here - and in Savannah - and this was the first time I had a chance to actually speak as an actor!)

His nickname is Simon and we both have beards.

Well, his facial hair has been growing for SEVEN YEARS. In a crowd when we pass people, someone will remark "Hey, man that is a helluva beard!"

I usually look back and say "Thank you."

He just rolls his eyes at my antics.

Having a beard so long - both in time and length - he wears it in several different ways.

It pumps up wildly when just shampooed (as seen above) during a windy Blues Weekend up in Camden.

Many of the bluesmen had beards so we felt very much at home there.

During one weekend here, I took Simon by the downtown Beard Shop, just to get their reaction!

On this day, he had "toned down" the bushy effect but the three bindings drew comments from passers-by.

Naturally, I did my silly quip each time.

It's nice having a buddy new to Charleston and being able to show him the sights - and sounds - of my hometown.

He liked the acts that Shrimp City Slim had put together for his 23rd Carolina Downhome Blues Festival annual Blues in Camden.

The t-shirt this year featured "Cacka-Lacky's" own Drink Small, the 86-year old Blues Doctor who killed them in concert! Had folks dancin' in the aisles.

Most recently, we went to Charleston Music Hall to see the Scottish stand-up comedian Craig Ferguson. (Click this link!)

Simon hadn't heard of him despite Craig hosting CBS's Late, Late Show for ten years.

Well, Craig, his robot side-kick and Secretariat, the 2-men-in-a-horse outfit, did step away from the show five years ago.

He has been touring and hosting some game shows...but I remembered him well.

Well, after the almost 2-hour show ended, Simon and I headed back to my car parked at the corner on King Street.

 BUT...we were distracted there by a gentleman sitting on a stool, surrounded by parrots and other "birds" the Brits say.

Several giggling young co-eds, each with a bird on her head, shoulder or hand, were communing with avian Nature!

I suggested that Simon get in the act and they both did well..a pirate look ..Aaarrgh!

And no pecks or bites on his neatly-braided beard.

You know the drill with my on the links and the photos for more details. Thanks for stopping by. I promise to post more often!

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M-o-w-n doesn't souind like t-o-w-n

I was a bit surprised yesterday to see a VERY large tractor-like machine idling across the street from my house. Stretched out behind it was a huge grass mowing apparatus like I have seen in use alongside freeways, taming the overgrown grass and making everything neater. 

Usually one sees a sign signaling "Mowing Ahead." No such sign on my street but I figured it out and approached the driver's door and saw he was eating a white bread ham and cheese sandwich as the engine idled with a rumble.

Or, maybe the sandwich was to quiet HIS stomach?

He popped open the clear plastic door to his air-conditioned cubicle and I asked if he was mowing the right of way today? He wiped his chin with a napkin, smiled and said he was and they do it about every 5 or 6 weeks.

"My lawnmower is not working and I wondered if you could mow the area on both sides of the sidewalk in front of my house, cutting the grass closer to my chain-link fence?"

He answered he could do that for me, although usually, the city did just the edge by the street. I thanked him and went home to get my camera and be ready when he mowed the rest of the block and turned to come back. 

I watched him finish the other side, make a wide turn and rumble back my way.

Sure enough, as he neared, he lowered and extended the cutting blades and neatly trimmed the grass in front of my house, gave me a wave as he veered back out to the normal path and clattered away. 

He had told me this would probably be the last time for 3-4 months, resuming again after winter when the grass would be growing up again.

Wonder if he will remember me and my request for a wider swath on this street in front of this house?  If I hear him coming next year, I'll probably offer him a sandwich.

It has been a while since I did a post on my blog.

Let's just say I have been busy.

A retired guy sez he's busy..doing what? Sleeping until noon?

Well, NOT mowing my lawn, that's for sure!

Not that I HAVE much lawn these days. To even out some low spots in my back yard that formed puddles when it rained, I had TWO truckloads of dirt delivered and dumped out back!

I took a fake shot of me with a shovel and a wheelbarrow but a neighbor - who also had dirt delivered - came over with his  John Deere tractor.

And we (uh, he) moved the dirt around as we tried to remedy the formation of rain puddles.

Still mainly a dirt yard so not too excited about getting my lawnmower running again.

After both of our yards were level, he attached a mesh screen behind his old lawnmower, added bricks for weight and began dragging it around.

And around and around and around Then it was my turn to do the dragging....smoothing the surface.

Click on the photos for more detail. 

Been a while, I almost forgot my standard close.

Have not even thought about buying grass seed yet.

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